“If we’re going to move to this town, I’ll need to learn how to say it!” I said to Michael.
Somehow, he already had it down.
But after three days, “Villaviciosa” didn’t exactly roll off my tongue.
I was, however, optimistic. After all, I could now easily talk about getting our empadronamientos at the Ayuntamiento.
So why was Villaviciosa such a hard word to pronounce? Probably because it includes so many of the features that make Spanish pronunciation so interesting or frustrating, depending on your outlook:
- V’s are pronounced like B’s. Which, my Spanish language partner tells me, is why many Spaniards, even as adults, get spellings of such words incorrect.
- “LL” is pronounced like the “Y” in “yellow.”
- In Spain, the letter “C” is pronounced like the English “TH” (as in the word thumb).
- “I” is pronounced like the English long “E.”
Got all that?
Thankfully, I learned Spanish pronunciation in a natural way, so never had to memorize any of the above rules. If I see a word written, I can pronounce it.
And that was the problem. I hadn’t spent enough time studying the spelling of Villaviciosa. So I took a few minutes to do so.
By the end of our trip, we decided to make Villaviciosa our next home town. And by the end of our trip, I was able to successfully tell people where we were headed.
For those of you still mystified:
- Villaviciosa is pronounced: Bee – yuh- beeth – ee -O-suh—accent on the “o”
- Ayuntamiento is pronounced: eye – yoon- ta- me -EN-toe. This is the word for city hall.
- Empadronamiento is pronounced: em- pah- drone- ah – me – EN – toe. This is a paper that you apply for at the Ayuntamiento that registers you as a resident of the town. Luckily, in the beginning, I could get away with saying the nickname many Spaniards use for this word: Padrón (pah-DRONE)
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But what I want to know is why is it called Vicious Town?
Apparently, back when it was named, “viciosa” had a different meaning. Something to do with the fertility of the land. I haven’t dug into the etymology enough to understand any more than that. Vitality? Will have to do some more hunting!
Oooo! I can answer this one! A villaviciosa was a private hunting ground, usually held by the local ruler(s). In Madrid, there’s an area called Villaviciosa de Odón, which is the location of a university and a number of residential neighborhoods. These kinds of historic areas were usually centered around forests and were maintained as a kind of “vacation spot” for the ruler and their court when the ruler wanted to escape to the country.
Wow! Thank you for that! I much prefer that to “Vicious Village” lol!